Jamie Baillie has been a familiar sight in Colchester County this week.
On Monday, the Progressive Conservative party leader toured Stanfield’s in downtown Truro and later spoke at Kohler Windows in Debert about the party’s plan to help create jobs in rural Nova Scotia.
Yesterday, Baillie returned to Truro, the town where he was raised, to announce that a Progressive Conservative government would give consumers a break at the pumps to the tune of four cents a litre.
No doubt, there are more visits and more announcements to come. It’s a must because success in former rural strongholds such as Colchester is essential if the third-place Tories are to make any major inroads in the Oct. 8 provincial election.
After all, prior to 2009 the PCs had never lost in Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, ruled Truro-Bible Hill for 26 of the previous 31 years and won four consecutive elections in Colchester North.
If there was such a thing as Tory heartland country, Colchester was it, but that changed four years ago when the NDP recorded convincing first-ever wins in Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley and Truro-Bible Hill.
Adding insult to injury, Colchester North MLA and former PC cabinet minister Karen Casey crossed the floor to join the Liberals 18 months later.
It wasn’t quite rock-bottom, but the basement floor was certainly within sight.
Now, as Tory strategists plot a return to prominence they have to believe those 2009 results were more of an anomaly than a genuine permanent changing of the guard.
They have to believe enough former loyalists will return to the fold to give them a fighting chance.
The only problem is they have some formidable opponents – Casey, Lenore Zann, Gary Burrrill – to beat, each of whom captured 48 per cent or more of the vote in 2009. Maybe some of that vote disappears, but where does it go?
And so the Tories seek to reclaim lost turf. If they claim enough of it, who knows? Maybe Jamie Baillie becomes the king maker in a minority government. Anything more at this point in time seems a tall order.